One song and one album that caught our attention this week.
Bone Crusher – ‘Never Scared (Remix)’
It feels like years since a proper posse track dropped, so I’m looking back to 2003 (thanks again to the Hotbox Social) to satisfy my craving for a ~5 minute rap morsel in which loud angry rappers compete for the biggest and best verse, back-to-back-to-back. This New York remix of the Atlanta hit single is the perfect recipe: Bone Crusher yells on the intro and hook, and verses from Cam’ron and Jadakiss provide a sense of control and balance with scheming flows, building up to a classically manic conclusion from Busta Rhymes. Extra spice comes in the form of Cam’ron slyly emasculating Bone Crusher (“Baby we like to bone, all our chicks are bone crushers”), before Busta politely reasserts the more conventional masculinity intended in his host’s name: “shatter bones in your body, when I bust, I holler bone crusher.” (JR)
Fela Soul – Fela Soul
I heard this album before I’d ever listened to De La Soul. (In music appreciation, as in many other things, I am a remarkably late bloomer.) So the thrill of recognition, which ought to have arrived right at the beginning, was delayed until the final track (‘Feel Good Inc.’), with the reassuring appearance of Damon Albarn’s voice. It is a different story now, of course, and the recent announcement of new music from De La in the middle distance sent me on a journey through their back catalogue, eventually arriving at Gazaway’s version. There’s much to love, but what I really dig about the album is that by refashioning, or repurposing, the rhymes – what we are perhaps inclined to think of as the feature of a hip-hop track most strongly tied to authorship of it – the number of possible terms in the matrix increases and the genre suddenly becomes even more self-regenerating. Like any good hip-hop album this one prompts the wonderful search of where things came from, and where they’ve since gone. Take, for example, the Doom track (‘Rock Co.Kane Flow’) from 2004’s The Grind Date. Space’s ‘Deliverance’ is replaced by Fela Kuti’s ‘Unnecessary Begging,’ and while the difference is subtle (given that the slow, plodding beat from the original remains, demanding attention), there is a shift in meaning beginning even with the titles of the sampled tracks; the interpretative possibilities are endless. ‘Music is the weapon of the future,’ Kuti says at the beginning of the track; the hip-hop example proves the rule and it looks like Gene Simmons is going to be waiting a long, long time. (JS)
Photo: Ebet Roberts.